My brother Alberto knows how to celebrate a holiday.
He goes more than a little overboard for Christmas (his ceiling is permanently marked by branch scrapes directly above the spot where every year he decorates an impossibly oversized live tree); every year he is in competition with himself to outdo last Halloween’s display (he will soon need to rent storage space to keep all the decorations and props he obsessively collects every year at the after Halloween sales); and, for Easter. . . well, I doubt any individual homeowner organizes a larger or more intricate Easter Egg hunt.
We are a large family, I am the youngest of six and I have 13 nieces and nephews, so any holiday get-together is a production. The guest list for Easter Sunday now hovers around 32 depending on who can make it. This has been my brother’s holiday to host for more than 15 years, and the egg hunt in his yard has been part of that tradition the entire time.
Easter 2003 was the first time I brought a guest to Easter dinner. Gosia was more used to family celebrations with a guest list of about half a dozen, but we didn’t manage to scare her off and two years later she became my wife and permanent part of our family events.
My brother is very serious about the egg hunt and he has developed a number of rules over the years to make the competition fair for all the age groups. The kids are released with their basket in hand in order of age, with the youngest going first. Based on age, there is a certain amount of time each of them needs to wait before joining the hunt — the specifics are arcane and best left to him to arbiter.
Initially all the eggs only contained candy and chocolate, but as the kids have grown older the prizes needed to get more interesting. Some eggs have coins in them, and some are “special eggs” that can be redeemed for a chance to answer a question and win money. All the questions are family trivia and the kids are allowed to ask the appropriate family member for the answer. It’s always fun and we all end up learning more about each other.
In previous years the big prize “special egg” was the first clue in a long and intricate scavenger hunt that culminated in a large money prize. This year Alberto had something more interesting planned.
This year Alberto’s son, Cory, got the big prize egg and found out that he needed to call his step-sister, ask her what she named her pet fish, and then write and perform a song about it. The result was pretty funny and it was a nice reminder to Natalie that even though she couldn’t be there with us on Sunday that we were thinking about her.